Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Constitution & Guns For Citizens

Mr. St. George Tucker was a law professor, federal judge and justice of the Virginia Supreme Court. In 1803 and based on his lectures he published the first scholarly work on the Constitution of the USA. Being both close in time to the founders of this nation and well versed in the law, his opinions should be respected today and, in fact, still are quoted in recent court decisions.

As to self-defense and the People's keeping and bearing of arms, he wrote:
"...The right of self defense is the first law of nature: in most governments it has been the study of rulers to confine this right within the narrowest limits possible.
Whenever standing armies are kept up, and the right of the people to keep and bear arms is, under any colour or pretext whatsoever, prohibited, liberty, if not already annihilated, is on the brink of destruction."

Before the Civil War the right to go anywhere in the nation while armed was considered, by the US Supreme Court, to be a basic right of citizenship. Since that time the tyranny of Legislative bodies and the Courts have diminished that right and, especially in Wisconsin and Illinois and certain cities in other States, has brought it to "the brink of destruction". In the other 48 States there has been some, sometimes very limited, positive responses to the People's demand for the return of that right.

I think it well past the time when Wisconsin should return to the principles which are the foundation of this nation and allow the People to do what the police so apparantly can not or will not do---Defend them against criminal assaults on their persons and property.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Kwanzaa & Islam

“Islam” was founded or invented by Mohammed, a bandit, murderer, liar (Beyond his claim to be a prophet) and sexual abuser of a nine year old girl-child. He changed, over time, his claimed teachings of Allah, to suit his changing level of power and personal needs. Among his other teachings is the lowering of respect for women by giving them only inferior legal and social status---And, encouraging beating of wives.

“Kwanzaa” was founded or invented by Ron McKinley Everett (aka Dr. Karenga), a torturer of women, convicted felon and racist---Who apparently made a good living from that creation (Itself, a collection of lies and misinformation).

The commonality of abuse of women/girls implies sick minds; The misuse of power, very criminal mentalities.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Dred Scott, Taney, Blacks & Guns

In the famous (Infamous?) Dred Scott decision, Chief Justice Roger B. Taney wrote a decision which, in effect, declared that Blacks (Or, at least, Black slaves) had no rights under the Constitution to be considered as citizens of the USA. It took the bloodiest war this nation has ever fought and some amendments to that document to overturn that decision.

Mr. Taney was not a WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestant) as he was a member of the Catholic Church by conversion.

Although that Chief Justice Of The United States has been described as a “staunch supporter of slavery”, his freeing of his own slaves well before the noted court decision and the Civil War makes that application of doubtful value. His ongoing support, from a limited income with other demands, of those of his ex-slaves too old to work is also a matter of some interest to evaluating him.

It may be that he was more of a supporter of “states rights” than of slavery as such. Considering how the Federal Government has intruded into every area of our lives, his concerns may have been based on a valid basis. (Those “liberals” who may, at first, conclude otherwise should consider the overturning of the Florida Supreme Court's decision as to the first election of George W. Bush as President by the US Supreme Court.)

In the noted court decision, one of Chief Justice Taney's chief concerns about granting Blacks citizenship rights was that they would, thereby, be able to go about the USA armed and without restrictions as could other (ie White) citizens (Who appear to have had that right diminished by legislative and judicial acts of tyranny). Considering the disproportional misuse of firearms by Blacks (Usually in Black-on-Black crimes), it seems his concerns in this area were also on a valid basis.

Too Many Black Bodies

There are too many Black bodies, of the wrong variety, strewn about Milwaukee's mean streets—Usually left there after other Blacks misuse firearms. If those bodies were ONLY those of rapists, drug dealers, gang-bangers, robbers and other like scum, I doubt if there would be much weeping and wailing over the results of such a civic improvement program.

If the honest, law-abiding and hard working majority of Blacks really wish to improve their community, they may wish to consider that the Police are NOT protecting them from those blots on their race and neighborhoods and take such actions as is necessary to self-improve their world. (Remember---Vigilantes come to power and effect only when the civil authorities are unable OR unwilling to control crime.)

Friday, December 22, 2006

True Freedom Of Speech And OF Religion

Our world has a very long history of ministers-of-religion, philosophers and others of like position and influence speaking for and against government leaders and officials on the basis of their morality-vs-immorality, logic, policies and other official or private behaviors. You might reflect on the teachings of Confucius, Protestant preachers, priests and popes, mullahs and imams and secular teachers/philosophers to understand that such comments are of long standing and basic to our understanding and development of government.

Within our own American traditions, we have a firm history of from-the-pulpit (And, in print) encouragement and criticism of specific and named political leaders----Especially in the periods just before elections. The making of such moral statements was expected of religious and other leaders, by the People, for their clarification of thoughts and election decisions.

However and in these degenerate times, too many political leaders (eg Senators Feingold and McCain) have elected to take great efforts in muzzling such person-specific comments---Especially in those 60 critical days before elections. To aggravate that insult to the People, there are laws which punish (By removal of tax exempt status) organizations which address the suitability of specific political figures to hold the public trust by election to office. (Unless the organization is so “politically correct” as to have practical exemption from such penalties---Such as certain “Black” churches who welcome to their platforms only one view of politics by specific speakers.)

By perverse “reasoning” the Supreme Court of the USA has, somehow, declared these laws in accordance with our Constitution and legal traditions. That is false! My position can be sustained on two grounds.

First, any political speech (Short of the equivalent of “falsely crying FIRE in a crowded theater” (ie Speech which provides a clear-and-present physical danger to others.(A KKK member attempting to force his speech on a meeting of the NAACP could be forbidden. A mob of student terrorists, as at Columbia University, who used noise and other force to stop political speech by supporters of a secure border with Mexico were, in fact, opposing free speech and should have been punished or resisted by such force as was required to maintain the rights of the scheduled speakers.) is a basic value and right in any democracy. However, other unilateral speech (Or, reasoned debate) as to any political question OR person should have the fullest protection of the Constitution and our laws. Among those political questions are the morality and public acts/positions of officials or those who wish to be elected to some public office---Most specially in that period just before elections.

Secondly, restrictions on the speech of ministers-of-religion (Or, their secular equivalents) is a violation of the “free exercise of religion” as guaranteed by our Constitution as such persons are expected to make such comments in both general, “issue”, matters AND as to individuals in or seeking public office. To rule otherwise is to make a restriction on religious practice no less objectionable than those imposed by the Church Of England before our Revolution or those inflicted by the Ayatollahs of Iran on those who wish more democracy in that ancient land. Other than in a few cases where there is a clear danger to the physical safety of others (Especially children), government has NO place in deciding what is a religious practice as that constitutes the “establishment of religion” prohibited by our Constitution.

Of course, most newspapers and “broadcast media” tend to favor those restrictions on free religious/philosophic speech noted above due to their general opposition to religion in the public forum (The place for debate) AND the fact that such restrictions do not apply to them and give them more power over the Public understanding of moral and political questions.

Too many politicians view such restrictions in the same positive light as they do the gerrymandering of election districts OR special exceptions as allow them to transfer money from one election account to another---A means to guarantee their reelection.


WHAT TO DO? The Congress should repeal the McCain-Feingold and anti-free-speech act.
After that, the Congress should (As is provided in the Constitution) pass such a limit on the various Federal Courts' jurisdiction as would prevent them from such abuses of the “free exercise of religion” and freedom of speech as are described above---And, the Congress should/must take no actions towards such ends itself.

Of course, this most excellent goal would be enabled by editors and TV producers supporting it after abandoning their “stuck in the 1960s” attitudes towards both religious freedom and free speech for other than themselves.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Finally: A Rational War Plan For Iraq

The USA "lost" the battle of Viet Nam (But, not the Cold War) by attempting to politically limit our actions there in violation of the precept that "War Is Hell"--And, should be so for our enemies. We won the first Iraq war by utilizing such fighting, not political, generals as Norman Schwartzkopf who were not reluctant to destroy those who opposed us. We have returned to limited, politically correct, war in Iraq---And are NOT winning that conflict.

Except among the Kurds and Marsh Arabs of Iraq, who were the targets of Saddam Hussein's genocidal campaigns against them, we do not appear to be convincing other Iraqis that democracy, rather than terrorism, is what their address to the Will Of Allah should be. We are certainly not making any friends or allies among those insane contenders for power in Bagdad and the Sunni Triangle.

Therefore, let us find a new and fighting general to take over and crush our enemies. If those terrorists cannot respect each other, us and law, order and justice, teach them to fear us. (Perhaps, the crazies who run Iran will "take a hint").

PS---For Credit For The Above Ideas, Please See The Article Below.

December 17, 2006

Oderint dum metuant

My title today was a favourite saying of the Roman emperor, Gaius Julius Caesar Germanicus, better known to history by his nickname, Caligula. (He ascended quite young; the word means “baby boots”.) In truth, he is not among the Roman emperors most fondly remembered. Even I do not include him in my gallery of heroes. It did not help that (according at least to Philo) he went mad during an illness in 37 A.D. Upon his recovery, he started executing people by the cartload, for crimes not always entirely clear.
He was a strict monarchist from the northern wild, had no appreciation for Roman republican traditions -- he quarrelled bitterly with the Senate -- and ruled at Rome on the model of an Oriental despot, with gaudy and somewhat tasteless trappings, and rather unRoman domestic habits, such as sleeping with his sister in the manner of those Ptolemies in Egypt. This did not endear him to the East, however, for there were riots in response to his more casual edicts, in Alexandria, and elsewhere. He wanted to erect a statue to himself in the sanctuary of the Temple at Jerusalem. This did not go over well with the Jews. And Christians, like me, can recall no particular affection for him, from the earliest days of the Church.
I did not admire Josef Stalin, either, but I used to quote with approval, during the Cold War, a saying of Stalin’s that I thought rather wise. It was, “Nuclear weapons are only a problem for people with bad nerves.” This expressed the sort of attitude that freed one from panic, when standing up to the Communists.
We may translate, “Oderint dum metuant” as, “Let them hate, so long as they fear.” It is the precise opposite of, “Win their hearts and minds.” And it is, once again, an attitude blessedly free of that panic which, I think, all Western policy towards the “Islamist” terror threat is now tending, starting with flight from Iraq.
My column Wednesday contained a line intended to be memorable, and which I notice is now being quoted here and there. Regretting the caution and delicacy with which U.S. and allied forces pursued the enemy in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle, I wrote that the “strategy” in Fallujah should have been, “to make it into a parking lot, and build a Wal-Mart at one end”.
Very well, the Wal-Mart was a flourish. And so, for that matter, was making the parking lot -- unless there’s no choice left. But Iraq is a just and necessary war, and therefore it must be won, in an unsentimental way.
Several learned correspondents have since asked if I thought my prescription was fully compatible with e.g. Pope Benedict’s recent remarks to the effect that states had to set ethical limits in what they do to protect their citizens from terrorism. Or more generally, had I forgotten the long rich Catholic tradition of defining not only what is a just war, but what are just ways of fighting.
My reply will continue to be, “Hiroshima, my love.” I do not think dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was at all a nice thing. I freely acknowledge that many, many, innocent people were killed, in a horrible way. Many more were killed in the preceding “conventional” incendiary bombing of Tokyo. But I agree with the late President Truman, who saw it was the quickest way to end the war, and thus save the many millions of lives, both allied and enemy, that would be lost in a pointless “conventional” land invasion of island Japan. And it worked: the surrender was quickly forthcoming.
What the older “just-war theorists” knew, or learned (starting with St Augustine, if you read his successive prescriptions for dealing with violent schismatics), is that war is ruthless. The very humane Clausewitz taught, that the war leader unprepared to be as ruthless as his enemy does not bring peace. He creates a quagmire, and his hesitations lead finally to defeat. The chemo-therapist does not negotiate with a cancer, nor grant it the benefit of the doubt. He does not weep for all the hairs that will fall out.
As to the enemy we presently face -- the same in the Sunni Triangle as over Manhattan in September, 2001 -- we cannot win their hearts and minds in the foreseeable future. They do not love us. Therefore let them hate, so long as we can make them fear us more than we fear them.

David Warren

© Ottawa Citizen

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Serious About Stem-Cells ?


What We Know About Embryonic Stem Cells
Maureen L. Condic

Back at the beginning of 2002, there was considerable optimism regarding the promise that embryonic stem cells were said to hold for millions of people suffering from fatal or debilitating medical conditions. Stem cells derived from human embryos, it was claimed, provided the best hope for relief of human suffering. Despite the profound ethical concerns regarding the use of human embryos for medical and scientific research, many Americans embraced this promise and the seemingly miraculous hope it offered.

The challenges facing embryonic stem cells were formidable. First, there was the concern that the cells and their derived tissue would be rejected by the patient's immune system, requiring the patient to undergo lifelong immune suppression. The three proposed solutions to this incompatibility problem (generating large banks of stem cell lines, cloning human embryos to provide a source of cells that perfectly match the patient, or genetically engineering stem cells to reduce immune rejection) were either socially, scientifically, or morally problematic (or all three). Second, there was the serious problem that embryonic stem cells form tumors when transplanted to adult tissues, and the tumorogenic capability of these cells is difficult, if not impossible, to control. Finally, there was the disturbing fact that science had thus far provided essentially no convincing evidence that embryonic stem cells could be reliably differentiated into normal adult cell types, as well as the disturbing possibility that overcoming this barrier would prove a difficult scientific endeavor.

Despite these concerns, many continued to regard embryonic stem cells with hope, believing that further research would overcome these difficulties and harness the power of embryonic stem cells for the benefit of mankind. Such optimists asserted that it was simply a matter of investing sufficient time, money, and research.

Since 2002, considerable resources have been devoted to just such research. A recent query of the grant database maintained by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) indicates that more than eighty research projects investigating human embryonic stem cells have been funded over the past five years. A research effort of this size represents millions of dollars in public money invested in the medical promise of embryonic stem cells. Indeed, the NIH reported to Congress in September of last year that anticipated spending on human embryonic stem cell research in 2006 was "just $24,300,000." Since 2002, approximately nine hundred research papers have been published on investigations of human embryonic stem cells, with more than a thousand additional papers investigating the properties of embryonic stem cells derived from animals. Clearly, research on embryonic stem cells has advanced considerably over the past five years, and it is therefore important to revisit the promise in light of current findings.

Stem cell--based therapies propose to treat human medical conditions by replacing cells that have been lost through disease or injury. Unlike an organ transplant, where a damaged or diseased tissue is removed and then replaced with a comparable organ from a donor, stem cell therapies would involve integration of replacement cells into the existing tissues of the patient. The dispersed integration of the transplanted cells throughout the targeted organ (indeed, throughout the entire body of the patient) would make it impossible to remove the stem cell derivatives surgically should any problems arise. Thus, the problem of immune rejection is of particular concern--if transplanted cells are attacked by the immune system, the entire tissue in which the foreign cells reside becomes the target of a potentially disastrous immune attack.

Over the past five years, the scientific community has focused almost exclusively on somatic-cell nuclear transfer, or cloning, as the best resolution to the problem of immune rejection. During somatic-cell nuclear transfer, the genetic information of an unfertilized human egg would be removed and replaced with the unique genetic information of a patient. This would produce a cloned, one-cell embryo that would mature for several days in the laboratory and then be destroyed to obtain stem cells genetically matched to the patient. Based on the success of animal cloning, human cloning was optimistically predicted to be a simple matter. Once we were able to clone human embryos, those embryos would provide patient-specific stem cell repair kits for anyone requiring cell-replacement therapies.

Human cloning has proved to be more challenging than anticipated. Human eggs, as it turns out, are considerably more fragile than eggs of other mammalian species, and they do not survive the procedures that were successfully used to clone animals. Multiple attempts by several research groups worldwide have been unsuccessful in generating human clones. The few reports of the successful cloning of human embryos were either unverifiable press releases or clear chicanery promoted by a quasi-religious group for its own publicity.

The elusive prize to generate the first human clone appeared to be won in March 2004, when a South Korean group led by Hwang Woo-Suk reported in the prestigious professional journal Science that they had generated a human stem cell line from a cloned human embryo. A year later, in June 2005, this same group sensationally reported that they had successfully generated eleven patient-specific stem cell lines from cloned human embryos and had dramatically improved their success rate to better than one in twenty attempts, bringing cloning into the realm of the possible for routine treatment of human medical conditions. Hwang was hailed as a hero and a pioneer, and his reported success evoked an almost immediate clamor to remove the funding restrictions imposed by the Bush administration on human embryonic stem cell research, lest America fall hopelessly behind South Korea in developing therapies.

By fall 2005, however, the cloning miracle had begun to unravel. Colleagues of Hwang raised serious concerns about his published studies, launching an investigation into possible scientific fraud. By December, it was conclusively shown that all the claimed cloned stem cell lines were fakes. To date, no one has successfully demonstrated that it is indeed possible to clone human embryos, and, based on the failed attempts of Hwang and others, human cloning is not likely to be a simple task, should it prove possible at all.

The scandal surrounding Hwang's audacious fraud raised multiple concerns about the ethics of embryonic stem cell research. Investigations revealed that Hwang had used thousands of human oocytes for his unsuccessful attempts, not the hundreds as he had originally claimed. The medical risks associated with egg donation (the potential complications include both sterility and death) raise serious questions about the morality of conducting basic research on human cloning. Given that Hwang pressured junior female colleagues into donating eggs for his research, how can the interests of female scientists be protected from such professional exploitation? Given that thousands of human eggs from more than a hundred women were used by Hwang and not even a single viable cloned human embryo resulted from this research, how can the medical risks to women entailed by this research possibly be justified?

The technical challenges encountered by Hwang are not particularly surprising. Experience from multiple laboratories over the past decade confirms that it is extremely difficult to clone any animal. Cloned embryos are generally quite abnormal, with those that are sufficiently normal to survive to live birth typically representing between 0.1 and 2 percent. The problems do not end with the technical difficulty of somatic-cell nuclear transfer itself. Extensive evidence indicates that even the cloned animals that make it to birth are not untarnished success stories. Following Ian Wilmut's production of Dolly the sheep, the world's first cloned mammal, it was almost immediately evident that Dolly was not normal; she experienced a number of medical problems that resulted in her being euthanized, due to poor health, at the age of six years, about half the lifespan of a healthy sheep. Dolly was the only clone to survive to live birth out of the 277 cloned embryos Wilmut's group generated, yet this success did not prove that cloning can produce a normal sheep. Dolly was merely normal enough to survive to birth.

In the past five years, a number of studies have carefully examined patterns of gene expression in mice and other cloned animals that survived to birth. Not one of these animals is genetically normal, and multiple genes are aberrantly expressed in multiple tissues. Both the severity and the extent of these genetic abnormalities came as a surprise to the cloning field, and yet, in retrospect, they are not surprising at all. The fact that most cloned embryos die at early stages of development is entirely consistent with the conclusion that somatic-cell nuclear transfer does not generate normal embryos, even in the rare cases where clones survive to birth. Thus, the optimistic contention that "therapeutic cloning" would fix the immune problem facing potential embryonic stem cell--based therapies for humans seems thus far entirely unsupported by the scientific evidence.

The dwindling numbers of therapeutic-cloning supporters defend this procedure by asserting that the genetic abnormalities are only a problem if you are attempting to produce a live birth. Thus, in a 2004 New York Times article, George Daley, a stem cell researcher at Children's Hospital in Boston, acknowledged that cloned animals show multiple genetic abnormalities, yet optimistically asserted, "Cloned tissues are not likely to have the same problems." In light of the mounting evidence that cloned animals experience severe genetic disregulation, such tentative reassurance is wearing thin, with even Daley admitting that his optimistic prediction that cloned tissues will prove normal enough for medical purposes has "yet to be proven."

The question of how normal cloned tissue needs to be is not merely a detail that needs to be worked out. It is, in practice, a fundamentally unanswerable question. If cloned human embryos are to be used as a source of stem cells, we will be faced with this simple question for every single patient: How normal is this particular cloned embryo, the one we are going to use to generate stem cells to treat this particular patient? Without allowing that embryo to develop and observing precisely how abnormal it proves to be, it is simply impossible to know whether it is normal enough for medical use. Every patient will be an experiment with no quality control. Perhaps the particular cells will be normal enough to cure this particular patient, but then again perhaps they will be so grotesquely abnormal that they will create a condition worse than the one they were intended to treat.

The limitation in our ability to determine which cloned embryos are of sufficient normalcy to generate medically useful replacement tissue is one that no research can address unless scientists develop some kind of test to determine in advance which cloned embryos are normal enough. Developing such a test would almost certainly require the horrific scenario of growing human embryos to a sufficient state of maturity that the normalcy of their developing tissues could be empirically determined. This would mean implanting cloned embryos into surrogate wombs and then aborting them at specific times to examine the embryo's development. Based on this information, it might be possible (although difficult) to identify features of very early embryos that predict whether they are capable of generating therapeutically useful tissue. Whether Americans are willing to accept the unknown (yet potentially large) risk of being treated with stem cells of undetermined (and essentially undeterminable) quality or whether we would prefer to accept the kind of experimentation on human embryos and fetuses that would be required to ensure embryonic stem cell safety are questions of profound social and moral importance.

It was unambiguously clear five years ago that embryonic stem cells robustly form tumors (teratomas) when transplanted into adult tissues, and this remains the case today. Teratomas are benign tumors that contain a variety of differentiated cell types (hair, teeth, muscle, etc.). These tumors can often prove fatal because of their rapid growth, but they are not malignant or cancerous tumors, which metastasize into multiple locations within the body. Embryonic stem cell advocates were well aware of the tumor-forming potential of these cells. (Indeed, teratoma formation following injection of embryonic stem cells into adult mice is still today the test of whether a researcher has successfully generated a bona fide embryonic stem cell line.) Embryonic stem cell advocates dismiss the threat of these tumors, however, claiming this would prove a problem only for undifferentiated embryonic stem cells.

These optimistic predictions have not held up to scientific experimentation. The tumor-forming potential of embryonic stem cells has proved a significant problem that does not show signs of being resolved any time soon. More than a dozen papers over the past five years (five papers within the past year alone) have shown tumor formation in animals treated with differentiated embryonic stem cell derivatives. In several of these studies, a shocking 70 to 100 percent of the experimental animals succumbed to fatal tumors. In all cases, tumors were believed to be derived from embryonic stem cells that either failed to differentiate or from cells that somehow de-differentiated once transplanted. Although experimental approaches designed to reduce tumor formation from differentiated embryonic stem cell derivatives are under investigation, it is not clear whether these approaches will ever prove successful, especially if the tumors are due to uncontrolled de-differentiation of the embryonic stem cell--derived tissues back to a more primitive state once they are transplanted to an adult environment.

Even more alarming than formation of benign (albeit, fatal) tumors, several studies over the past five years have raised concerns that the longer embryonic stem cells are maintained in the laboratory (or, presumably, in the tissues of adult human patients), the more likely they are to convert to malignant cancer cells. Embryonic stem cells spontaneously accumulate the genetic abnormalities associated with embryonal carcinoma (a form of testicular cancer). Embryonal carcinomas are believed to be the cancerous equivalent of embryonic stem cells and are a highly metastatic form of cancer. Although the finding that embryonic stem cells spontaneously convert to cancer cells over time remains contested, it is clear that some, if not all, embryonic stem cells undergo this conversion, and the factors controlling the transition are not well understood.

The assertion that embryonic stem cells in the laboratory can be induced to form all the cells comprising the mature human body has been repeated so often that it seems incontrovertibly true. What is missing from this assertion remains the simple fact that there is essentially no scientific evidence supporting it. Experiments have shown that embryonic stem cells are able to participate in normal embryonic development, an observation that is also true of cancerous embryonal carcinoma cells. When injected into early mouse embryos, both embryonic stem cells and embryonal carcinoma cells randomly contribute to every tissue of the developing body.

Even more dramatically, when embryonic stem cells are injected into mouse embryos under specific experimental circumstances (a procedure known as tetraploid complementation), they can be induced to form all the cells of the postnatal body. These experiments prove that embryonic stem cells (and embryonal carcinoma cells) remain capable of responding appropriately to the developmental signals that regulate tissue formation in the embryo, and from these results we can conclude that if embryonic stem cells were intended to provide cell replacement therapies for embryos, they would represent a very promising therapeutic approach. The problem, of course, is that embryos are not the intended targets of stem cell therapies, and there is little reason to believe that the capabilities of embryonic stem cells in an embryonic environment are relevant to their therapeutic potential for non-embryonic patients.

Five years ago, most scientists working in the field of embryonic stem cell research confidently predicted that we would soon determine the precise recipe of molecular factors required to replicate in the laboratory the mysterious inner life of the embryo. David Anderson, a stem cell researcher at Caltech, boldly asserted in a New York Times opinion piece that once science had figured out the factors required to replicate embryonic development, specific molecules could simply be "thrown into the bubbling cauldron of our petri dishes," where they would transform embryonic stem cells into an unlimited source of replacement cells for any tissue we chose to produce.

Skepticism regarding this claim was well warranted. While there have been hundreds of papers published over the past five years that stridently claim "cell type X produced from embryonic stem cells," under closer inspection these successes have all been less miraculous than they appeared. It is relatively easy to generate stem cell derivatives in the laboratory that have at least some of the properties of normal, mature cell types. But the test of whether an embryonic stem cell--derived brain cell, for example, is indeed a normal adult brain cell is to put it into the brain of an adult animal and determine whether it survives and contributes to normal brain function. In addition, if laboratory-generated cells are to be therapeutically useful for the treatment of human disease and injury, they must be shown to have therapeutic value in adult animals: It is not sufficient that embryonic stem cell--derived cells merely survive in adults; they must also be able to repair the underlying disease or injury. It is precisely this kind of test that embryonic stem cell--derived tissues have proved unable to pass.

When cells derived from embryonic stem cells are transplanted into adult animals, their most common fate is to die. Indeed, most such transplanted tissue does not survive beyond a few weeks in an adult environment (the only exception is blood cells, where small numbers of cells survive long term in mature animals). The rapid death of transplanted embryonic stem cell--derived cells stands in striking contrast to the robust survival of bona fide adult cells when transplanted to adult tissue. Typically, even the most promising experiments involving the transplant of embryonic stem cell derivatives have reported modest positive effects that persist for only a few weeks. In the few cases where tiny fractions of the transplanted cells survive for months (rather than weeks), this straggling band of survivors typically provides no therapeutic benefit.

The failure of embryonic stem cell--derived tissues to survive when transplanted to adult tissues strongly suggests that science has not yet determined how to generate normal adult tissue from embryonic stem cells. Why then do some studies show modest, short-term benefits from transplantation of such tissues? In many cases, the authors of these studies speculate that embryonic stem cell--derived transplants are not providing benefit because of replacement of lost or damaged cells but rather because the transplanted cells are supporting the survival or function of damaged adult tissues by secreting generic survival factors. Thus, the modest and transient benefits reported for embryonic stem cell--derived cell transplants over the past five years do not appear to require stem cells at all and are likely to be replicated by simply identifying the beneficial factors produced by the transplanted cells and supplying these factors directly.

In light of the serious problems associated with embryonic stem cells," I noted in 2002, "there is no compelling scientific argument for the public support of research on human embryos." Serious scientific challenges are, by definition, problems that have stubbornly resisted the best attempts of science to resolve them. Over the past thirty years, hundreds of billions of dollars and countless hours of research by dedicated professionals worldwide have been devoted to solving the problems of immune rejection and tumor formation, yet these issues remain serious scientific and medical challenges. The mysteries of embryonic development have been plumbed for more than a hundred years by some of the most brilliant biologists of history, and yet, despite the clear progress we have made, we are nowhere near the point of having a "recipe book" for cooking up cellular repair kits to treat human disease and injury. Immune rejection, tumor formation, and embryonic development have proved themselves to be profoundly serious scientific challenges, and they are likely to remain so for decades into the future.

The hubris of scientists in the field of embryonic stem cell research who confidently asserted "Give us a few years of unrestricted funding and we will solve these serious scientific problems and deliver miraculous stem cell cures" was evident in 2002, and it is even more evident today. For the past five years, researchers have had completely unrestricted funding to conduct research on animal embryonic stem cells, and yet the serious scientific problems remain. They have had every conceivable tool of modern molecular research available to them for use in animal models, and yet the serious scientific problems remain. Millions of dollars have been consumed, and hundreds of scientific papers published, and yet the problems still remain. The promised miraculous cures have not materialized even for mice, much less for men.

In June 2004, Ron McKay at the National Institutes of Health acknowledged in a Washington Post interview that scientists have not been quick to correct exaggerated claims of the medical potential of embryonic stem cells, yet McKay justified this dishonesty by stating: "To start with, people need a fairy tale. Maybe that's unfair, but they need a story line that's relatively simple to understand." Isn't it time Americans recognize the promise of obtaining medical miracles from embryonic stem cells for the fairy tale it really is?

Maureen L. Condic is an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah School of Medicine and conducts research on the development and regeneration of the nervous system.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

P. I. G. Literature

Kantor, Elizabeth (PhD.)
The Politically Incorrect Guide to English and American Literature
Regnery Publishing, Inc. (An Eagle Publishing Company)
Washington, D.C.; 2005


This is a very serious book about literature and what has been inflicted to it and as to the empty and meaningless politics substituted for it by the “deconstructionalist” and other like new-wave professors in our degenerate universities. I am sorry (Ashamed?) to write that I do not have the fullness of a truly liberal education as would allow me to fully understand the language of literary analysis and discussion. However, there is enough of value in this book for even a science-based rationalist as myself to better appreciate what the study of literature should be, what it has fallen to and what its traditional values are to a civilized human and humane being.

If I were to find any fault with the author's presentation it is her lack of appreciation for what is generally called “Fantasy And Science Fiction”, from C. S. Lewis (The Chronicles Of Narnia, and the series beginning with Perlandia) and J. R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit and the ring series) to such very serious American works as A Matter Of Conscience (A now out-of-print science fiction novel, the name of the author lost in my memory; But, involving very serious moral and philosophical questions and problems), Robert Heinlein's Stranger In A Strange Land, Frank Herbert's Dune (And, more specially, its prequels as written by others) and too many others to list here. If Dr. Kantor would be more aware of such works, she would have been less likely to complain about the lack of serious and lengthy American works. (Europeans may look to the past to explain the present and human nature; The best American writers look to possible futures to do the same.) The readers may not like the answers; But, such books do address the important questions of human and humane existence.

However, if you consider yourself to be a civilized and cultured person, you should read Dr. Kantor's work---Even if it causes you to weep over our Universities as the Christ wept over the doomed city of Jerusalem.


If you read the above, you should also read the complementary volume. Noted below, which provides many examples of the too many professors who are destroying true academic freedom and, in fact, thinking within our universities.

Horowitz, David
The Professors: The 101 Most Dangerous Academics in American
Regnery Publishing, Inc.; Washington, DC; 2006